My View From The Country

A Colorado Rancher’s Christmas Wish

I could write a bestselling book if I could put in words what I feel when I ride over the top of a hill on a good horse and view black cows grazing on green grass.

There are a lot of different people who read BEEF Cow-Calf Weekly – in fact, there are about 40,000 of you on the weekly mailing list. But, overall, the readership tends to be a pretty homogeneous group in that we tend to share a love for agriculture, and cattle in particular.

I’ve always wanted to articulate that bond that ranchers share, but I’ve never really made an effort to do it, because I know I couldn’t do it justice. It’s the love of animals and the land, and the passion for a lifestyle that is somehow about living one’s life in accordance to a higher code. It’s also about God, family and freedom; and it’s all something I think you’re bestowed by choosing the profession.

I could write a bestselling book if I could put in words what I feel when I ride over the top of a hill on a good horse and view black cows grazing on green grass. It’s a feeling I’d love to be able to share. Every rancher might describe their perfect scenario a little differently, but they understand that feeling of being part of a higher calling. 

That’s not to say that this life doesn’t have its difficulties. While Mother Nature can blanket and embrace you with beauty, peacefulness and fulfillment one good day, she can tie you into a Gordian Knot the next. This past summer’s extreme heat and drought are examples.

On Wednesday of this week, we had a good old-fashioned blizzard on the plains of Eastern Colorado. The storm was widespread and was moving through the Central Plains on Thursday.

The moisture, of course, wasn’t enough to change anyone’s drought status. Most of us also would have preferred that the snow was of the wet variety that falls straight down, rather than snow driven sideways by 50-mph winds. Still, everyone here was celebrating, if only because it proved that rain and snow are still possible in our locale.

Despite the long-term forecasts, which haven’t imparted a lot of hope for an improvement in our moisture situation going forward, the optimist in me hopes this storm is a harbinger of things to come. It’s widely accepted that this industry stands on the edge of an extended run of record cattle prices, but we need above-average moisture prior to grass turnout time to forestall more significant liquidation.

Unlike in the past, when the droughts were severe or regionalized, there is very little excess capacity or feed today to move cows onto anymore. We’ve run out of options. If the cows are forced to town this spring, there won’t be very many heading back out into the country.

But, man, do I love having the opportunity to face such challenges. For most of us blessed with the privilege and responsibility of caring for God’s nature and creatures, all we seek is to be able to continue, and to build something sufficient to allow our children to follow in this wonderful life if they choose.

It’s easy to forget life’s problems and revel in the gifts I’ve been given when I’m atop a horse heading for work as the sun rises over the horizon on a cool summer morning. Even better is when my wife and children are there to share the experience with me.

Christmas is another of those occasions that transcends for me any care or tribulation – because of its powerful meaning and because we share it as a family.

What a wonderful and glorious time of year – as we gather together to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior. Best wishes from Colorado for peace, health, good will and prosperity.

Discuss this Blog Entry 9

John Donnelly (not verified)
on Dec 21, 2012

You still get the same feeling with red cows and a bronc. Merry Christmas

Anonymous (not verified)
on Dec 31, 2012

Very funny, and well put JD

on Dec 21, 2012

Good point, John. It's not the packaging that counts. Merry Christmas.

Jesse McGaha (not verified)
on Dec 21, 2012

good article, thanks! Have a Great and Merry Christmas too!

on Dec 23, 2012

Great article. Merry Christmas America!

Bob Mueller (not verified)
on Dec 24, 2012

You said it "ALL" We have "EXCELLENT FAMILY" and Friends, What more could we ask for at this Holiday Season?????

Trent Loos (not verified)
on Dec 24, 2012

Great piece Troy I just read it on my Christmas Eve Colorado Trails and Tales that will be booming accross NE Colorado this evening.

on Dec 24, 2012

Thanks, Trent, for sharing Troy's Christmas message with your fine audience of listeners. I'll pass on your note to Troy. Best wishes for a glorious Christmas to you and yours.

Joe Roybal

JD Golonka (not verified)
on Dec 25, 2012

Before I read the comments, I was going to suggest that Herefords on any color grass work for me.
Merry Christmas to all

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What's My View From The Country?

As a fulltime rancher, opinion contributor Troy Marshall brings a unique perspective on how consumer and political trends affect livestock production.


Troy Marshall

Troy Marshall is a multi-generational rancher who grew up in Wheatland, WY, and obtained an Equine Science/Animal Science degree from Colorado State University where he competed on both the livestock...

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